When attempts to express gender equality backfire [electronic resource]
- Eleanor K. Chestnut.
- Physical description
- 1 online resource.
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- On the surface, it seems as if "Zebras are like horses" and "Horses are like zebras" should have the same meaning, since both express similarity between horses and zebras. Yet, adults and children consistently prefer "Zebras are like horses". This is because statements with this syntactic structure (which I will call subject-complement statements) frame the item in the subject position as the less typical, less important variant and the item in the complement position as the more typical, more important reference point. In four studies, I explore the consequences of subject-complement statements intended to express gender equality (e.g., "Girls are as good as boys at math"). I show that such statements not only reflect preexisting stereotypes about gender, but perpetuate them. The statement "Girls are as good as boys at math", for instance, subtly reinforces the stereotype that boys are naturally more talented by framing boys as the reference point for girls. To promote gender equality, then, it is not enough to express equality explicitly. We must also consider the information that we implicitly communicate in our statements.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
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